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Are you taking the right steps for a friendly workplace?

While your employer bears a lot of the responsibility for creating and encouraging an appropriate, safe and harassment-free workplace, there are things you can do to contribute. When everyone on a team puts in the effort to make the workplace more friendly and appropriate, the risks of harassment and discrimination can be reduced.

First, take some time to review and understand any policies your employer might have regarding harassment or discrimination. These policies often provide you with actionable guidance on how to avoid even the appearance of discrimination or harassment, which is important. You certainly don't want to be caught up in claims of discrimination or sexual harassment when you had no actual intentions in that regard.

Next, understand how to make reports when you see an action that might be harassing or discriminating. You might think that incidents that involve other people are none of your business, but discrimination and harassment in the workplace end up impacting everyone through lower morale and loss of productivity. It's important not to feed into that with gossip about the situation, but you might discreetly report an issue to an appropriate supervisor or human resource representative.

Finally, make sure you treat all your coworkers with respect and dignity, even when their beliefs or lifestyles are different from yours. You don't have to befriend coworkers or socialize with them outside of work to be professional and courteous in the workplace.

Not everyone acts or behaves appropriately on the job. If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace, then you might want to take other steps. A first good step is speaking with an employment lawyer who can help you understand what rights you have and how to assert them.

Source: FindLaw, "Tips for Creating a Friendly Workplace," accessed Sep. 02, 2016

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